Australian scientists have discovered two antigens that could play a key role in developing a powerful new malaria vaccine. And they made the discovery after studying 33 people who had suffered from malaria and then grown immune to it.
"People in malaria endemic areas develop natural immunity to malaria, what (these studies) have done is go into these communities and see what antigens (the people) have immunity to and see if we can use these antigens to make vaccines," Freya Fowkes tells Reuters. Fowkes and her team work at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne.
An effective malaria vaccine has been elusive. The disease kills about 1 million people each year.
"With measles, you get just one measles infection and you are immune for life," Fowkes explains. "With malaria, you need multiple infections to develop long term immunity to disease. The actual parasite itself is very diverse with lots of different antigens on the surface ... and it takes a while to develop enough immunity to all the different antigens to give long term protection against malaria."
- here's the story from Reuters